Flowers and Conceptive Design

She comes sharp at nine in the morning with her tools and a basket full of flowers, leaves and containers, to beautify the office which is otherwise drab and serious. You would seldom find a secretary like Brinda endowed with an indomitable urge to take extra initiatives which are not directly related to her work.

The other day she arranged the roses in a crescent shape to follow the line of a cane crescent. She glided over the natural curve of the stem and placed the tallest flower in the pin holder and gradually followed the line, filling in the larger, more open roses in the centre. She then kept a broom securely in the holder, with two rose buds on either side, and filled the centre with three large roses.

“What’s this arrangement called?’ I asked her. “This is crescent and star. Have you forgotten that today is Eid?”

I admired her imagination and creativity. “Well Brinda, Onam is fast approaching. What will your arrangement look like on the Onam day?” I asked to test her.

“For Onam I have in mind a cool and fresh arrangement of foliage without flowers,” she answered, beating her eye brows. Her hands were working all the time, cutting some stems. “I am planning to get some curly croton, variegated hibiscus leaves, and smooth wide dieffenbachia caladium for forming a long-lasting composition. The container for this will be a rice measure from Kerala!”

“Brinda, you seem to have mastered this art. Are there any basic principles for making a good creative design?”

“Yes, unity and harmony in a flower arrangement is obtained by five basic principles: focal point, build-up, balance, relationship of parts, and simplicity.”

“Take a flower and place it in a container. The flower is beautiful, but there is no design. Take two flowers of the same height and size. This again is dull. Two flowers placed in different heights look more interesting. Place three flowers of different heights with the largest in the centre. A design has taken shape. The centre flower is the focal point or the centre of interest.

The second principle is build-up which is achieved by repetition of colour, form or texture leading either towards or away from the focal point.

The third is balance. Form and colour are important factors of balance. In art, balance is achieved by visually conveying equal weight through colour and material. The eye is the best guide to help achieve a visual artistic balance.

The next is relationship of parts. This is nothing but the proportion or scale necessary to obtain the best and most striking visual effect in the design.

The last principle is simplicity. This means the design should be uncomplicated. “

Wasn’t Fordyce who said that to create visual beauty with natural materials, the rules should be few? Nature has its own form and charm. The gliding clouds, the fading sun, the gentle rhythmic breeze, the lingering fury of storm, the enchanting flower-laden trees, the pattern of rains drawing near, the quivering spider web... all this tells us in unambiguous terms that beauty is not created by man, but arranged nature’s way!

- P.K. Balasubramanian